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Ask Buffy

By Buffy Filippell

Buffy Filippell, "godmother of sports business" and president of Teamwork Online, the first online recruitment tool for sports teams and leagues, offers advice for Freshmen & Sophomores thinking about a career in Sports.

Howdy Ma'am,

I am currently a full-time freshman Sports Management major. My question for you is, what is the best way for a freshman like me to "get my foot in the door" if you will, with a professional sports team? Is it even possible for a person with my current level of experience to get for instance a summer internship in the sports world?

Sports Management Freshman

Dear Sports Management Freshman:

I would go to each of the sports teams in your area to see if you can do an internship, go to any career fairs you can and try to meet as many people as possible to get an internship. Look at some of our new baseball internships. I would also suggest that you work for your own school's athletic department. Check to see if any speakers are coming to your college, or whether your college has sports executive contacts that you can call yourself for informational interviews. Volunteer for events like the Dew Action Sports Tour if a stop is in your hometown. Look at internships at tennis tournaments in the summer, if there is any in your area. You should meet everyone you can and try to get as many internships or volunteer positions as possible before you finish college. Then get some sales experience at even a retail store and you should qualify for the NBA Teams Ticket Sales Job Fair, or ones hosted by MLS or some of our other leagues.


Dear Buffy,

My goal is to work in sports, however, I am unsure where I should begin my path. I know that I want to work in some capacity in sports, but I don't necessarily have a preference at this point as to what area of sports business I want to get into. Where do you suggest I start?

Path Seeker

Dear Path Seeker,

I suggest that you try to read the biographies of anyone and everyone you can online with us here at TeamWork Online and try to meet as many people in athletics from coaches to administrators, to media relations executives to sales promotion agencies. Anyone and everyone that you can talk to will be helpful. Ask them enough questions about themselves that you could be a stand-in for them in their job for a day or two. In order to do that, you'll need to know a lot about them.


Dear Buffy,

I am entering a sports management program in the fall. How should I plan my freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior years?

Freshman Sports Student

Dear Freshman Sports Student,

My absolute best suggestion is to get experience working at your school's athletic department in selling tickets, sponsorships and promoting events at your college. If you can't do it there, try to find a local high school. And obviously, try to work at a professional sports organization. But those people who can say they identified a problem (lack of people attending an event, for example), developed a plan to solve it and then solved it will be the most desirable candidates.


Hey Buffy,

I am currently a freshman in the UMass-Amherst, looking to major in Sport Management. I live near Boston, MA and looking for an internship for this upcoming summer. I saw that the Boston Celtics are holding a job fair. Do you think it would be worth it for a student, like me, to attend this job fair, even though I am looking for an internship for the summer? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, freshman

Dear Freshman,

The career fairs are an excellent place to go to find local internships. They often have many sports organizations and affiliated sport organizations there seeking young talent. Make sure you present yourself well, be enthusiastic that you'll do whatever they need done during the internship. Then follow up by email, snail mail and by phone. (There are still some of us that prefer the old-fashioned snail mail and phone.)


Hi Buffy,

I am currently pursuing my bachelor's degree in Sports Marketing at a small college in the Northeast. It seems like every day I hear, or read, about how competitive it is becoming to actually get a job in professional sports. My fear is that studying at a small NCAA Division III school will not offer me the opportunities that students studying at major colleges such as Arizona State, Florida State, etc. might have. Do you know of any ways that I can enhance my education, and begin building my network now, so when it comes time for me to begin my job search, I can vault ahead of other students?

Thank you for your insight!

Little Guy Wanting to Make It Big

Dear "Little Guy,"

I suggest reading USA Today and Sports Illustrated, along with Sports Business Daily or Sports Business Journal as well as Team Marketing Reportto get some good information on the sports industry. To have face-to-face dialog with most sports team executives, the National Sports Forum is a terrific conference to meet the movers and shakers at the team level. They have a conference this coming January 20 -23rd in Pittsburgh. And they have a new scholarship program for sports marketing students. It's a great way for young people to network with the legends in the industry. Go to the Sports Forum to register.


Buffy G. Filippell founded TeamWork Consulting, Inc., an executive search firm for the sports and event management industry in September of 1987. The firm's more than 120 clients have included, among others, NASCAR, PGA TOUR, almost all the major leagues - NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS - twelve NFL teams, eleven NHL teams, twelve NBA teams, nine MLB teams - CART, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, International Speedway Corporation, Major League Soccer, Olympic Governing Bodies, corporate sponsors, and sports marketing agencies. In 1999, she also developed the first online employment recruiting tool for sports teams and leagues ? TeamWork Online. 

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